Dismantling the Divide Between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge


  • Arun Agrawal

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      Arun Agrawal is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611, USA. He is interested in the politics of institutions, development and environment, and researches forest use, NGOs, democratic consolidation, and human dimensions of global change. He is currently writing a book on nomadic pastoralism, The Politics of Greener Pastures.


In the past few years scholarly discussions have characterized indigenous knowledge as a significant resource for development. This article interrogates the concept of indigenous knowledge and the strategies its advocates present to promote development. The article suggests that both the concept of indigenous knowledge, and its role in development, are problematic issues as currently conceptualized. To productively engage indigenous knowledge in development, we must go beyond the dichotomy of indigenous vs. scientific, and work towards greater autonomy for ‘indigenous’ peoples.